February 26, is Spay Day! WOOHOO! Spay those females, neuter those males, prevent an unwanted litter or two. Spaying and neutering is only one step on the long road to reducing the number of unwanted animals killed in shelters each year. According to the ASPCA approximately 5 Million to 7 Million animals are admitted to shelters every year, and of that approximately 3 million to 4 million never make it out. That’s a 60% rate for dogs and a 70% rate for cats. These numbers are horribly upsetting and terrifying when we could make a huge dent in this by preventing litters. With so many cats being killed in shelters it is so important to get feral cats in your neighborhood spayed and neutered. The colony numbers will stabilize, they will be less of a nucience to the neighborhood. Eventually the colony will die off. If no one does anything about the cats, they will repopulate with no end in sight. Remove cats and you create a vacuum, more cats move in. Every litter can have their own litter at as early as 4 months old. If one mom has a littler of 5 kittens, and each of those kittens has a litter of five kittens at four months old, while mom is on her second litter, that is going to be a lot of cats in a short period of time.
I wasn’t going to write about Spay Day 2013, I figured since I did my post about low cost clinics in the Chicago area that was enough to mark the day. Then I joined a #BlogPawsChat on Twitter. Fellow Twitter users were asking a participating vet questions about spaying and neutering their pets. Someone brought up TNR and feral cats. I jumped on that tweet so quickly, and started educating. Several of us discussed the importance of doing TNR to help stabilize the colony and reduce the number of animals. We provided links to resources and suggestions for finding the required assistance. It was a great evening, a wonderful way to mark Spay Day 2013. It was a great feeling to educate and help someone, and potentially stop dozens of cats from being killed.
In other news it was another mixed day with Marius. He seems to be relaxing a bit. He still won’t come out and socialize with us, but feels safe
enough to slink out from behind the couch to use the litter box (which is on other side of room). He also enjoys playing with me. I got him going this evening, so much so that he even rolled over and showed me his belly while playing. I got to see kitty belly! That is so exciting. Of course, this is all while hiding behind the couch, but it is a start. Speaking of behind the couch, I pulled the couch out from the wall tonight and blocked off half the area behind it. So now he only has half a couch to hide behind (unless of course he discovers the sheet covering a cat sized gap is actually something he can squeeze under). As I mentioned above, he actually came out from behind the couch to use the litter box while the basement was occupied by people. He sat in the corner squeaking, used the box, then went up the stairs to the landing by the door and sat there squeaking. His cry was so pitiful that I found myself getting up and walking to the stairs. Poor Marius flew down the stairs, ran into a box and a bag of cat litter then behind the couch so fast I don’t think I had time to blink. When I checked on him behind the couch his ears were back and his eyes wide. I calmed him down with a bit of slow blinking and some time with the Cat Dancer. I love the Cat Dancer, it is a miracle worker.
Last I checked he is still hanging behind the couch, laying on top of the feather wand toy he stole, leaning against a blanket. We made some progress, and I think Marius and I have made a lot of progress in the just under a week since he came inside. He still absolutely breaks my heart at times and I wish I could speed things up, but I just have to breath and remember it takes time.
I try to be grateful for the little things with him. It is good to know that he feels safe with me. He blinks at me, will eat when I am around (though only behind the couch) will come out to use the litter box, plays with me and even showed his belly to me today. He is scared of the open spaces of the basement. I understand this. Two years of outside aren’t going away in just a few days. So we take it step by step and see how long before he comes around. In the mean time I think I will slowly wean him off his hiding place behind the couch, Tomorrow I will put his food so he has to come a little further out to eat. Slowly, slowly. The key is to make him feel secure without letting him hide out of sight and reach of humans. A very difficult median to reach!